Foundation Supports NASW's Global Social Work Initiatives

By Paul R. Pace

NASW has lent its voice to a number of international efforts over the years and has provided guidance on how to approach some specific issues, says Robin Mama, PhD.

“For example, the (NASW) International Committee has developed practice updates on children and migration, on human rights, on human trafficking, just to name a few,” says Mama, who has served on the committee several times over the years. She is currently its chairwoman.

NASW’s international social work efforts are administered in part through the NASW Foundation. The International Committee interprets NASW policies and Delegate Assembly priorities in developing guidance for the implementation of programs in the areas of international social work education and practice and in advocating for the protection of human rights. It educates and encourages social workers about how international experiences enrich both their social work practice and the profession of social work globally.

In honor of the NASW Foundation’s 20th anniversary this year, we are highlighting some of NASW’s International accomplishments. Mama, who is professor and dean at the School of Social Work at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J., notes the president of NASW serves on the International Federation of Social Work’s (IFSW) board and brings the North American perspective, along with the Canadian Association of Social Work, to this international organization and its members.

IFSW represents 128 country associations, including more than 3 million social workers. The organization provides a global voice for the social work profession and plays a prominent role at the United Nations (UN) with special consultative status by the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Children’s Fund. IFSW also works closely with the World Health Organization, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Participation in these important entities ensures that social work is promoted to achieve social development. NASW has been a sponsor of the annual Social Work Day at the United Nations, which has brought hundreds of social work students and faculty to the UN in New York City, introducing them to the importance of social work in the global arena, Mama said. “Many who have attended this event have gone on to a more international social work career.”

group of people with United Nations building in background

NASW Foundation staff and members of the NASW International Committee on Social Work Day at the United Nations in 2017

Each year, social work students, practitioners and educators travel to the UN to learn more about the organization, its innovative projects and issues related to international social work and the important role social work plays in international affairs.

“The Foundation has also been instrumental in supporting other professional social work organizations — like in Tanzania, where NASW helped form the professional association there and then support it with resources and collaboration,” Mama says. It is vital that the NASW Foundation and NASW support social work across the globe, she added.

“Social work has been, and continues to be, an evolving profession,” Mama said. “It is very important to support our colleagues in other countries as they work to establish social work as a profession and to support its growth and acceptance.”

“We can also learn so much from our colleagues in other countries as they find solutions and best practices for social problems that we may not have considered. There are endless ways that we can collaborate together on global issues.”

A Global Village

group of people pose for camera

Former NASW President Jeane Anastas and former NASW CEO Elizabeth Clark with leaders and participants at the Tanzania Association of Social Workers (TASWO) annual conference in 2012

The world is a global village and we are all interconnected and impacted by what happens in our respective countries, says Cudore Snell, DSW, MSW, who serves on the NASW International Committee. NASW’s international efforts have made a difference by promoting collaborative partnerships around mutual goals. This has happened through capacity building and projects, especially in Tanzania and South Africa, for example, says Snell, assistant provost for International Programs and professor at the School of Social Work at Howard University.

Snell said the Foundation has been an important player in the growth of social work. It has brought the profession together through its support of the NASW national conferences and its Social Work Pioneers® program, as well as addressing timely and critical concerns for social workers who support NASW’s objectives.

“The Foundation also annually recognizes social workers who have been trailblazers in the profession (and have made) groundbreaking changes to the benefit of society,” he said.

Joining Others

NASW and the Foundation understand the importance of collaboration. The Foundation has supported the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, which works toward a world where a well-planned, well-trained and well-supported social service workforce effectively delivers promising practices that improve the lives of vulnerable populations.

Its mission is to promote the knowledge, evidence, resources, tools, and political will and action needed to address key social service workforce challenges, especially within low- to middle-income countries.

NASW Foundation staff have served on the GSSWA’s steering committee and NASW staff have regularly attended the GSSWA’s annual symposiums to gain insight on the latest issues impacting global social work.

NASW’s international efforts are examples of how donations to the NASW Foundation support the growth of the social work profession. To donate and learn more, visit

Foundation Donations

The NASW Foundation extends its thanks to all NASW members and friends who lend their financial support, with special thanks to the following for their contributions of $100 or more through August 27. All donors are listed at

NASW Foundation General Fund

Monica Harrison

Esther Langston

Michael Taylor

Lisa River

Joanne Cruz Tenery (monthly)

Ian Cole Watts

NASW Public Education Campaign

Mary Bewig

Daniel Luke

Thomas Pier

Carole Oliver

Joanne Cruz Tenery (monthly)

Michelle Wexelblat

Aimee Zagaja

Professional SW Pins

Sacred Heart University School of Social

California Chapter Diana Ming Chan Scholarship Fund (in memory of Clarence Chan)

California Chapter Diana Ming Chan Scholarship Fund (in memory of Clarence Chan):

Robert Carter Arnold

Nancy Lim-Yee in memory of my dear friend, Clarence Chan, husband of Diana Ming Chan

Sabrina and Jung Shin


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